July 06, 2015

We Played A Party Game Via Snapchat

###The Situation

I have a group of 10 friends that I’ve known for a long time (our parents are friends). When we hang out we can be up to 14, depending on who is present plus other friends and significant others. We like to play a lot of games (video and board and everything in between), but it’s hard to find good ones mainly because 1) we’re such a large group and 2) we like to keep it very casual.

###Last weekend

We played a game that goes like this: Each player gets a sheet of paper with an object written on it. Everyone has the same object, except for one person, who has a different object. You go around each saying a statement about your object. After everyone has gone once, you vote on who you think was the odd one out.

I’m not sure what this game is called, in fact I’m not even sure it has an official name. But I’ve heard it called ‘Traitor’, so let’s go with that.

###Why are you writing a blog post about this

Because we played it via Snapchat, which I thought was interesting.

As far as I know, Traitor is a folk game. That means there isn’t a single canonical set of rules, and you can’t buy it in a box that comes with everything you need to play. So in lieu of those things, we had to figure a few things out.

For one, we didn’t want to waste paper. There were 12 of us, and we didn’t want to do all the work involved with setting up this game using physical materials: ripping a piece of paper into 12 pieces, writing down the same thing on all of them, finding a bowl/hat to put them in, shuffling them up, and then passing it around. Every round.

Snapchat, besides the fact that it’s hilarious to recieve a selfie along with what your object is, has one very important advantage over merely texting everyone: You can mass send a Snap to multiple people and they can’t see who else is on the thread.

This is crucial to maintaining the central conceit of the game: nobody can know who the traitor is, even the traitor herself. For the game to work best each player has to try and walk the line between saying something too specific (because this will give away that they are the traitor) and something too vague (because this will make them seem like a traitor who is trying to get by on no information).

There’s one more thing to mention if you want to be a real stickler: it’s possible for the traitor to infer their role by assessing whether or not they recieved a notification at the same time as someone else. But we thought it through. There are two things you can do: either have everyone silence their phones and only look at them once all Snaps have been sent, or have the sender turn on Airplane mode, thus causing the sending to fail, then turn Airplane mode off to resend the Snaps at the same time (you should only be sending two: one to the traitor and one to everyone else).

###How did the game go?

Really well. A few tips:

If you’re the one assigning the objects, the game works best when you find a proper middle ground between very similar objects and very different ones. If they’re completely different objects, the traitor is too easy to spot. If they’re too similar, nobody has interesting answers. The best answers are ones that are straightforward when applied to one of the objects, but interesting when applied to the other.

The natural tendency of people assigning objects is to pick two objects that are mostly the same except for one glaring difference. However I’ve found that if you want good results, you should choose two objects that are entirely different except for one crucial similarity.

In the best round we played, all the players got Kanye West as their object. The traitor got Jesus.

Here were all the clues:

Did you guess who was the traitor?

###For next time

I never tried to assign abstract concepts as objects. I’d be interested in seeing what would happen if you did Love/Hate, for example.

I heard on Reddit that some people play a variant called Ghost instead of Traitor, where the traitors have blank pieces of paper instead of other objects. Unlike traitors, ghosts obviously know they’re ghosts, so their goal instead is to figure out what everyone else has.

Many people have pointed out to me the similarities between this game and Spyfall. If you haven’t played Spyfall, you definitely should.